While I’ve always been a fan of the taste of coconuts, I never thought I would be praising the fruit’s moisturizing properties. But I’m doing just that. I have extremely sensitive skin that easily turns red and reacts to many mainstream products. My face is also on the dry side, so I love moisturizer. Because of these sensitivities, I have turned to unconventional methods for my skincare routine, in which coconut is a star player. Please remember that everyone’s skin is different. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa, but if you have very sensitive skin like I do, or have been unlucky with mainstream products, this could be a great new ingredient for you.
I’ve recently started drinking coconut water ALL of the time. (I find regular coconut water to taste awful, but you can get chocolate flavored coconut water by ZICO that tastes exactly like chocolate milk. So good!) I was turned on to this drink – which is extracted from young, green coconuts–because I have heard a great deal about its health benefits, such as its high percentage of potassium. I was recently indulging in a cold glass of chocolate coconut water, when I began to wonder if the health benefits this thirst quencher provides for the body could translate to the skin, if applied topically. After all, coconut oil is such a great moisturizer (Dermatitis), and, according to a 2010 study in Skin Pharmacology & Physiology, is also a great skin healer, so could coconut water have a similar effect? I was eager to find out.
[Related: Spotlight On: Coconut]
I ventured to my nearest market and bought the original flavored coconut water (I stuck with the ZICO brand), and my experiment was put into effect. I saturated a cotton ball with the white liquid and spread it on my face. Sure enough, there was makeup on the cotton ball, so I know it removed the little amount of makeup that I wear. Better yet, my skin was left glowing. It wasn’t red, which is usually how my skin reacts to any sort of cleanser, and it looked smooth and hydrated. The next day my mom was staring at me, and when I questioned her, she responded, “Your skin looks pretty.” What?! This is a compliment I have never received. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I certainly got the results I wanted on a physical level, but what was the science behind my success?
The Science of Coconut Water
A 2009 article by the Sabinsa Corporation notes that “…ingredients such as green coconut water… support hydration and preserve skin elasticity. The results of a clinical study showed that treatment with a cream containing Cococin™, a patented coconut water, significantly improved skin elasticity, which was manifested in decreased skin roughness and improved skin tone.” Hydrated, smooth skin? Yes, please! The article continued to assure: “Such ingredients can effectively be used for oral and topical applications and serve as a natural pool of nutrients and growth factors that support healthy aging.”
A 2009 study in Molecules looked into the specific ingredients that make coconut water so beneficial. One of the components highlighted in the article, kinetin, has been identified as a great anti-aging ingredient. The article states, “Based on the results obtained from studies on the anti-ageing effects of kinetin on human skin cells, skin care products containing kinetin were subsequently developed to treat photo-damaged skin.” Though coconut water is not as potent a source of kinetin as the concentrated kinetin in products like Kinerase Ultimate Night Moisturizer ($135.25, Amazon.com), it is cheaper and can be consumed as well as applied topically.
From both personal use and scientific data – coconut water can be an effective toner or refreshing facial mist! As with any new product, however, you should patch-test on a small bit of skin first.